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Kennedy and the Ups & Downs of Silver Age Animation

Discussion in 'The Warner Bros. Club' started by SB20xx, Jul 13, 2003.

  1. Cartoonzrule

    Cartoonzrule Member

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    Another question to Jon: Why does your work on Kids WB Animaniacs (It, Macadamia Nut , Bully for Skippy, and Magic Time) look so different from your Fox Kids work? I noticed you and a lot of the other animators/inkers made Slappy's eyebrows very thick on Macadamia and Bully for Skippy. Were those eps. cel animated or was digital ink and paint used for them?
     
  2. Peter Paltridge

    Peter Paltridge Knows about rock people
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    I want to know this too, because that guy's "Toxic Revenger" scene was one of the worst-animated scenes I've ever seen.

    To refresh your memory: "I WANT THAT DUCK OUT OF MY FACTORY, MUFFIN! OUT! OUT! OUUUUT!"
    It's that scene.
     
  3. Cartoonzrule

    Cartoonzrule Member

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    I know that person's animation is terrible, but it has that "it's so bad, that it's funny" quality to it. The "Plucky McDucky" scene on Buster and the Wolverine is a perfect example of what I'm trying to say...
     
  4. Jonny Mack

    Jonny Mack Member

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    Not sure what you're seeing. Digital ink & paint was never used, at WB's request. The stuff was roughed in pencil, then cleaned up in pencil, then xeroxed onto cels. No inkers.

    Slappy was supposed to have thick eyebrows (eye "arches"), so if we made 'em thin at one time, we were slack.
     
  5. wiley207

    wiley207 Well-Known Member

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    Aha! I had the feeling that the xerox process was used on "Tiny Toon Adventures" and "Animaniacs!"
     
  6. Cartoonzrule

    Cartoonzrule Member

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    [​IMG]

    This above is your work during the Fox Kids years isn't it? but...
    [​IMG]

    This is a Kids WB clip of Slappy. I know that second pic isn't your work, but it just doesn't look right. Who animated it.

    And also I've been curious for a very long time:

    Who animated these below?:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Was it Kirk Tingblad, Ron Fleischer, Spike Brandt? I find this animator's work very funny.
     
  7. Jonny Mack

    Jonny Mack Member

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    OK, yes ...

    Looks pretty good to me. I like the heavier eyebrow arch lines, and I think they are the correct model, but sometimes they didn't get cleaned up properly. I like Slappy better this way.

    The mouth looks a little wonky, which suggests to me that this is an inbetween drawing (constructed by an assistant) rather than a key drawing (constructed by an animator) ... which in this case might've been me or somebody else, but I don't remember an episode where we had her in a hardhat (other than an old flashback in "Slappy Goes Walnuts").

    This is unmistakably Spike Brandt's work. He made her chin a little squarer than my Slappy, and he is a great animator/draftsman.
    This might've been me or Spike.
    Ron Fleischer never animated for us. He was our technical director in charge of track-reading and ex-sheets, but he knew timing and he knew how to direct, so occasionally we threw him a bone and let him direct a cartoon.

    None of these pictures were Kirk Tingblad's.
     
  8. SB20xx

    SB20xx Oooooh!
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    Hey, while we're discussing Thirteensomething...
    [​IMG]
    Who drew Buster's ears so short here? He just looks odd. In some of the other scenes during the audition he looks OK, but for some reason they're scrunched down in that screencap.
     
  9. Peter Paltridge

    Peter Paltridge Knows about rock people
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    So, since you've admitted you used Xerox....

    I thought TV cartoons weren't using it since the Xerox process was so obvious in the Disney films up until the late 80's, and if you copied a pencil drawing, ANY pencil drawing, it would look that obvious. But I guess not. You fooled me.

    Then answer me this: what did you do when you needed a scene where colored ink was used?
     
  10. Cartoonzrule

    Cartoonzrule Member

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    I think that might also be Spike Brandt...
     
  11. Jonny Mack

    Jonny Mack Member

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    Yes (Cartoonzrule), that was indeed Spike. Just one of those inconsistencies. We were a little skitterish about Buster's ears because one thing Spielberg didn't like was cutting off the tops of Buster's ears (with the top of the television frame). Since his ears made up about 60-70% of the height of Buster's head, it meant we couldn't get very close in closeups, and his head would end up in the bottom half of the screen, which is psychologically a bad place to frame a character, especially the protagonist. So we would do things like throw his ears back in perspective, to minimize them. But in this case, they're just short.

    In TV animation, you just don't have the budget to hire professional inkers, and you'd never be able to find Asian inkers who could do the job properly. Inkers were really tremendous artists, like comic-book inkers. It's an extinct skill.

    So the answer was for the animators - or, more often, the assistant/clean-up artist - to stroke a clean line on the paper. It's very exacting work, especially for the inbetweeners who have to make clean AND accurate "inbetween" drawings ... guaranteed to give you finger cramps the first week or so. Assistants invariably had to keep a bottle of Advil next to their light box until their finger muscles got used to the work. Then after a week or so, your finger muscles would be in tip-top shape and you could get off the Advil.

    That's just the way it was for TV animation. Disney did it the same way when they re-entered the TV market with Ducktales etc. Essentially the Hanna-Barbera method.

    Last month, I just finished another Dudley the Dinosaur commercial, and my son Dave, who has a beautiful clean-up line, did all the clean-up and inbetweening. Then at the end, a day before I was supposed to deliver it, I realized I had forgotten to send him one of the scenes to clean-up. So I thought, "Oh well, I can do that one last scene myself."

    It looked TERRIBLE! We ended up having to pull the camera way out so you couldn't see the line as well ... very sad. Luckily it was a quick shot and nobody noticed.

    Pencil clean-up is really a skill I admire ... cuz I ain't got it!

    Right - what we refer to as "self-color lines." If you look at the image of Buster and the other two characters above, you see that there are dark tones: around Buster's feet and the back of his head, Plucky's bunny-hood, tail, and butt, and the bottom of the white rabbit.

    With digital ink & paint it's easy to just re-color those lines whatever color you need, but when you're xeroxing, it's more complicated. The drawings were xeroxed with all black lines. Then a cel cleaner removed "dirt spots" and animator's notes, etc with an alcohol solution, and ALSO those "self-color lines" that are jut supposed to dilineate different color tones like the ones mentioned above.

    Then it was passed to a "xerox checker" who retouched any lines that may have been accidentally/partially wiped off ... and he would also trace the self-color lines from the original drawing. Since these lines were much more subtle and incidental, they didn't have to be done very accurately or artistically, so all you needed was somebody with a good eye and a steady hand.

    Also, sometimes special shows used sepia-tone lines instead of black lines. In a case like that, they would order special sepia-tone toner for the photocopiers. Cases like that were pretty rare.

    Nowadays the ink & paint technology makes everything a lot easier and gives you LOTS more color options.

    But Warner Bros wanted everything done on film, as I've said before, so we did it the old-fashioned way, which at that time was still fairly widespread.

    Ah, the good old days.
     
  12. Kazuya Prower

    Kazuya Prower Keeping it Tails since 2005

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    Wow, I didn't know Dudley the Dinosaur commercials were still being made. The first time I saw a Dudley commercial was in the early-mid 90's.
     
  13. Cartoonzrule

    Cartoonzrule Member

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    To Jon: I noticed that in Taz Mania, other than the intro, you only worked on 4 cartoons (2 episodes). Why didn't WB give you more episodes to animate? It's hard to watch the episodes from Wang or...the dreaded AKOM (except the Willie Wombat eps. done by Wang). Another question: Did you have any involvment whatsoever with the production of Freakazoid or Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries? :sylvester :tweety: (I heard you made storyboards on a lot of the Road Rovers episodes so I'm not going to ask about that show)
     
  14. Itchy

    Itchy Scratchy's enemy

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    Ugh.. Not a fan of the Kennedy episodes. His style worked ok for A pup names Scooby doo, but on Tiny Toon it looks pretty bad.
     
  15. Jonny Mack

    Jonny Mack Member

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    Ruegger and Art Vitello kept us busy on Taz-Mania until Animaniacs started up production, and so they switched us over to that as soon as possible. They were also being much more budget-conscious about Taz-Mania (e.g. a five instrument band instead of full orchestral music) and so I think they had more budget room to let us work on Animaniacs.

    Ruegger talked to us about Freakazoid early in production - he sent us some early storyboards and models - but in the end we didn't get to work on it. Very sad, because I thought that show was the funniest one they produced.

    Sylvester & Tweety? No.
     
  16. DarthGonzo

    DarthGonzo Fourteen Years!

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    To be completely honest (and no offense Jon because I've always loved your work) I really can't see the Startoons style working for Freakazoid. Part of that show's appeal was in the DCAU type designs and animation contrasting with the insane stroylines and off-the-wall humor. Could it be possible that it's the reason you didn't get to work on that show, Jon?

    If any show desperately needed Startoons in the mid 90's it was Animaniacs. It was nice you guys were finally brought back in the fifth season, but I spent two seasons wanting to see more Startoons on that show. But as the lone season four TMS episode showed us by then even really good animation couldn't save that show.
     
  17. Peter Paltridge

    Peter Paltridge Knows about rock people
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    I have to agree. Different styles work for different shows and Freakazoid worked best when the crazy stuff was dramatically, seriously animated.

    I thought Wang did a good job handling most of Animaniacs' third season. Wang was no StarToons, but they were really stretchy, and they brought the Warners to life well. Season 4 was almost all Akom, and THAT was a mismatch. Akom was better for Pinky and the Brain, not bouncy characters like the Warners.

    But for the most part, early on, they were matching characters to studios. Jon mentioned they gave ST all the Randy Beaman Kid bits and every Slappy they could.
     
  18. SB20xx

    SB20xx Oooooh!
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    I kinda wish Phillipine Animation (who did "Acquaintances" and POSSIBLY "The Sunshine Squirrels", which I suspect is a credits error, as it has a similar style) would've gotten more episodes later in the series. I really liked their work; it wasn't terribly refined but it made up for it with loose animation that frequently went on ones.
     
  19. Roman Legion

    Roman Legion Let's Make a Deal
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    I'm not so sure about that. I can imagine it working, sorta... though I could be wrong.

    --Romey
     
  20. Jonny Mack

    Jonny Mack Member

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    I'm on your side, Romey!

    Let's face it, different cartoons require different styles. The bouncy energetic style we used for Tiny Toons, Taz-Mania and Animaniacs wouldn't be appropriate for Freakazoid. However, I find it interesting that a studio gets typecast as being of a certain style just because they followed the style required for that show. Less squash and stretch isn't harder to do. We did a lot of "straight" animation that unfortunately never got the exposure that our "bouncy" stuff got.
     

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